Most homes have window blinds, but very few have shades that are controlled by a hydraulic system. Architect Manuel Herz designed the facade of a five-unit complex in Zurich with a series of curved panels that open and close like blooming flowers.
The building, called “Mechanical Ballet,” has a dynamic facade that opens and closes via a hydraulic system that the residents control from inside their apartments. When closed, the outside of the aluminum panels are a plain, metallic gray. When opened, they reveal a pop of color that reference the colorful metal panels on the facade of Le Corbusier’s nearby Heidi Weber Museum.
The moving louvers fold outward and up and down, providing roof shading, privacy, and a deck-like platform when fully open. From the inside, the open shades let in an ample amount of light. Closed, they create a colorful wall that blocks out natural daylight. It’s a simple trick that feels at once novel and frustrating given the constraints on your options—open or closed.
The interior of the square building is designed with a similarly mechanical feel—metal, glass, and concrete are everywhere.